by Ey Stargazer
a girl takes up residence in a mansion that has the cheapest rent in town. Wonder why?
|Marilyn sat back down on the bus stop bench, roughly crossing off yet another apartment from the newspaper adds in front of her. "too expensive for location." she blew up in an attempt to get the bangs out of her face. What met her eyes was a page nearly covered in red X's. She turned the page to looks at the next one. No "rent" section on it. She sighed. Only two spots left. She checked her watch then her bus transfer. She would have to make the next stop a good one since the transfer would expire soon. It was her own fault in a way.
Her parents had made their decision to move away from the city at the beginning of the year. She wanted to stay where her friends were and had negotiated that, as long as she could find someplace to stay that had rent under a certain amount, she could stay. Thinking it would be no trouble she had waited till a little to near her deadline before she started looking. That was when it really hit her.
The city she lived in housed four major universities as well as the headquarters for almost two dozen large companies. Housing was at a premium and it was not uncommon to pay as much for rent as was equivalent to half of any given person's yearly salary. Something that is of course undaunting to a girl of seventeen. But also not accomplish able by sheer willpower.
She checked her watch again. The bus would be there soon.
Marilyn jumped as a large bag was put down on the bench beside her. Perhaps dropped would be a better word.
"What're you lookin at? This is my food."
She looked up in surprise at the scruffy, dirt covered man who spoke to her.
"yeah, I saw ya eye'n it. It's mine ya hear."
"No I didn't want..."
"Where is that confounded bus? It's late."
"No it isn't, the time is only..."
"It's late there's more than one person waiting for it so it's late."
Marilyn looked back at the road and sighed. This kind of company would make waiting less bearable. She squealed when he snatched the paper from her hand.
"Please give that back, I need it for..."
"Coloring obviously, you're x's are getting better. But isn't this a bit too grown up for a little kid like you to be carrying around?"
She let out the breath she had started holding, "I am not a little child, I'm simply looking for..."
"A place to stay," he used the paper to hit her head lightly, " I can see that as easily as I can see that you're a minor. What, You got no parents to take you in?"
"I have a family but I'm going to be living here while they..." she stopped, she shouldn't be telling this to a complete stranger.
"Really," he grunted, " I'll tall you know that you aren't likely to find a place to stay in any of these places. You should have made arrangements a month ago before all the students started flooding in."
She bit her lip, she didn't need him to tell her that.
"You'd have much better luck," he started checking the many pockets on his person, "Trying here," he pulled out a stained piece of paper. "This is a couple months old but they probably still have room, and it should be a lot less expensive than those other places, safer too. Of course," he shouldered his bag and turned to continue walking down the street, "Safe is a relative word. Have a good day now little girl."
"Aren't you waiting for the bus?"
"It's taking too long."
She stared after him before unfolding the paper in her lap. It was an advertisement for rent at... Marilyn stared at it. It claimed that the location was a mansion. She looked over the rest a rough map, some obscure writing, and a price at the bottom. Three hundred a month. She sat back and stared up at the sky with a confused expression. It didn't take much in the way of arithmetic skills to figure that it fit quite well into her budget, but the location itself...
she frowned. Was there something wrong with the residence or people that lived there? What other possible reason could there be for the cost to be so low? And then there was the gap in time from when the add was posted and the present. She sighed, there wasn't really any point in pursuing the issue. "I'll be much better off acting according to my original plan."
A gust of wind picked up. Marilyn held tight to the page as she hadn't finished reading it. She felt her transfer slip from her hand a moment too late. She got up to grab it but her foot caught on her backpack handle and caused her to fall short. She watched helplessly from the ground as it floated across the parking lot and practically right into the hand of a man in a suit. She stared he could have very easily fooled anyone into thinking that he had been expecting it the way he didn't seem to notice it until it was in his hand. She was about to call when he turned to a small child behind him and gave it to them. Marilyn propped herself up on her hands somewhere between shocked and appalled. He hadn't even looked around to see if it belonged to anyone! She sighed indignantly, she got up and brushed her skirt. This would be easily solved she would simply demand fare from the stranger. Shouldering her back pack she marched straight over. "Hey!"
He was younger than she thought he was, only 25 at the oldest.And handsome. Tall with impossibly green eyes and long dark hair that he kept in a ponytail.
He smiled slightly, "Yes, Miss, can I help you?"
She shook her head vigorously, she couldn't forget her object. "My transfer, you gave away my transfer."
"And your point?"
She scowled, "You have to get me a new one."
"Really? That one was about to expire I don't see..."
"I have other things to do today and I need to be able to get around."
"I'll take you where ever you need to go if that will work."
"No, I don't want to rely on anyone. Just give me fare for the bus so I can go about my buisness."
"My aren't we confrontational. I suppose you were referring to that bus over there," he nodded in the direction she had come from.
Marilyn whirled around to see the bus departing the stop. She turned her scowl back to the man.
"It's your fault that I missed my bus."
"No you could have either held tighter to your transfer or had extra bus fare."
She hit him with the piece of paper, "Some gentleman you are...Hey!" She moved to retake the page, "That's mine!"
"Really," he easily kept it out of her reach by placing his hand on her head and holding her at arms length while he looked at it, "I'm not so sure, this looks familiar."
"I'm sure it does now give it back."
He looked at her with an uncomfortably interested look on his face. "You aren't getting any freebies from me, but I do recommend a magnifying glass for the writing." He lowered his hand to within her reach, but snatched it back up when she reached for it, "You're the strangest one yet."
She grabbed it and stepped back a few feet, "That just means you haven't meet many people."
He smiled again, "Perhaps, have a nice day." He returned to watching the parking lot.
She stared at him with a scowl, he dared to just dismiss her! Hadn't he ever heard of manners, common curtisy? Evidently not.
"You're still here? I thought you had things to do."
She turned on her heel and walked away.
She bit her lip could the day get any worse. She looked down at the paper, no harm in trying. She opened it to get directions. She squinted at the page, maybe the man was right about the magnifying glass. Handwritten in microprint it was barely deceranble as writing at all. She sighed, Why hadn't she just held onto the ticket. She walked toward the side of the parking lot, there was a dollar stor there and she would at least be able to borrow the use of a magnifyer for a few minutes which would be all it would require there was no point buying on for such limited use.
The store bell rang hapily as she entered she was a little dismayed that there weren't more people in the store it would make what she was doing more conspicuous.
"Hello, little girl, how can I help you?"
Marylin's shoulders dropped slightly as she looked at the elderly man behind the counter, "I'm not a little girl."
He smiled takeing no offence, "When you get to be my age, everyone is a little girl or boy. Are you looking for anything in particular?"
No point hiding her purpose from an old person, "I need to use a magnifying glass for a couple minutes," she quickly added, "I won't take it out of the store."
He simply held out a hand to her, "May I see what you need it for?"
She passed him the piece of paper. He put on a pair of glasses and looked at it, "I imagine you want it for the scribble at the bottom of this paper." he looked over it again, then taking his glasses off gave her a concerned look," you're not looking at this place for rent, are you? A young person like you trying to get out from their parent's roof," he sat back, "but perhaps there are circumstances. Am I right?"
She smiled back, he reminded her greatly of her grandfather, "I'm just looking for a place to stay when I go to school, after the term I'll probably join my parents in another city."
He nodded satisfactorily, "You're one of those ones."
He caught her surprised look.
"You're not the only one to be left here for a school year while your parent's get things settled, though usually they pick the room and do it much earlier in the year."
"I can personally speak for the wisdom in that."
He chuckled, "well, a magnifying glass won't help you that much for this map. However, I have something that has worked perfectly in the past."
Marylin almost asked what he meant but he had already disappeared under the counter where sounds of multiple and probably breakable objects were be moved and shuffled around like a deck of cards in a casino.
"Are you sure a magnifying glass wouldn't work as well?" she asked after some minutes of this carrying on.
"Nope, I've got the perfect thing for it if I can only find it."
"I hope to inquire about it some time this afternoon so I should probably..."
"Time! of course I left it with the watches." He rushed off to a back area of the store before Marilyn could protest. She looked around the store and started wandering the asiles. When she found the magnifying glasses and tested on the label of another product, she could tell that is wouldn't have been very helpful for the writing.
She turned to look down the asile there the man had reapeared and was searching for her. She walked over and before she could ask about the fate of the item he sought she saw it in his hand.
"What is that?"
He smiled, " I used to be a jeweler, this is a jewel glass. Now lets find some paper to write the directions on." The paper was a much simpler find under the counter. he put the glass to his eye and began his interpretation. he chuckled as he wrote with his other hand. Once he finished he passed both scrapes to her. "You'll have fun with this, it's a series of riddles."
She looked at him in disbelief then read the note herself.
what is the tallest building in the world
She looked up at him, "This can't be all that it said."
"It isn't but from there you'll get the directions you need. Come back some time and I'll give you the next one. They aren't really anything you'd understand just yet."
Her look was one of pure confusion.
"Really, I'm serious, but you make sure you come back." He looked away, "unless of course you can't fuigure out that riddle."
"Of course I can, it's an old one. Thank you." She skipped out quickly then looked at it. "Now what on earth do you mean?"
Marilyn was not without intelegence and remembered that there were several books on riddles in the library.
The West side library was close enough to put itself into her way on her trip home, therefore a detour was not out of the question.
Someone's sharp "shush" greeted Marilyn when she walked through the door. The cause was a rather loud individual that was beating a book against one of the shelves. Marilyn joined the group of onlookers.
"I think he's drunk."
"This early in the day?"
"Stranger things have happened."
Marilyn moved away from the talking people and looked at the nearest shelf to see if it contained what she was looking for.
"Could you keep it down?" was yelled across the building in an effort to be heard over the increasingly loud banging. The man started to laugh.
Marilyn covered her ears. Who let this guy in?
Her attention was drawn as a woman walked past her. Tall with a studious air, her dark hair was pulled back in a tight bun and she had a clean navy suite on. Stopping to face the drunkard, she adjusted her glasses and asked him to "cease being disruptive".
He laughed harder and aimed the book at her. Marilyn wasn't sure how the lady did it but in a moment she dodged the object and caught the man by the hair on the top of his head.
"Sorry about the noise," she turned and dragged him out, making horrible gurgling noises and shrikes.
Someone behind Marilyn chuckled, "I knew she snap on him."
"If she hadn't I would have."
The original speaker laughed, " We'd better get back."
Marilyn pulled the book off the shelf and took the page from her pocket after going through several pages she found the one she was looking for.
"Can I help you find anything?"
Marilyn dropped the page at the sudden appearance of the librarian at her elbow. "Um no, I've found what I'm looking for." Never mind that what she was looking for was apparently useless information.
The lady picked up the paper and turned it over a couple times. "Are you looking for this address?"
"Yes, but I'm not having much luck."
"Are you sure you don't need help?"
Marilyn looked at her sceptically, "Do you know where this is?"
She smiled, "I'll write it down for you."
Her feet were going to fall off, or at least that was how it felt. She had been walking up what looked like a country lane for nearly an hour and hadn't even glimpsed the house. Her pace slowed what if it was just a weird way of luring people out into the woods or a convenient location for a murder. She had almost come to a stop with a halfway formed notion to turn around and go home when she heard a bicycle bell behind her.